Monday, 15 December 2014

December flowers

It’s time for another Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day post and I’d like to show you what’s flowering in my tiny London garden. Being December you might think that can’t be much but in my garden there is something in flower every single week of the year. December so far has been cold and we have had one night below freezing. That’s one night more than the whole of last winter – and winter last till end of February so I hope this is not a sign of a colder winter than usual. Despite temperatures between 2-8 degrees C the last 2 weeks the garden is still looking green and the spring bulbs are continuing to pop up everywhere.

The cooler weather has brought some nice sunny days lately, a change from the rain we had in November.

In the bed next to the patio almost all the pots are brought out, just two left to deal with, one is the huge calla lily – still green and lush despite the frost. The hyacinths are well on their way up in this bed, so are the snowdrops and daffodils too so it was just about time to chuck all the pots out.

And look at the adorable Camellia ‘Takanini’ in flower, I am so happy I ended up with this one last year, it was an eeny-meeny between several camellias and I had a hard time choosing. To be honest, I would have liked having all 8 on my short list, but tiny camellias do grow up eventually to demand their own big space, and I managed to stay sensible – just.

On the patio are my two magnolias, the leaves are gone and it’s easy to see that the tall ‘Heaven Scent’ will flower beautifully next spring too, whilst the smaller 'Red Lucky' has yet to produce a single flower bud.

And my nursery shelves are just bursting! So much that I have had to place pots on the ground as there is no more room on the shelves.

I have cuttings placed wherever I can find a space for them. Not sure what I will be doing with all these once they all become large mature plants, but I might be able to swap them for something interesting I would not have thought of growing :-)

On the nursery shelves I have a few of my miniature fuchsias. You can see next to my fingers just how tiny the flowers are. This is Fuchsia 'Fuksie Foetsie', a tender miniature which I intend to keep through the winter here on my nursery shelves. I have told all my fuchsias I expect them to survive and do well so they better behave. Tender or not.

My chillies have survived far longer than I expected, but I suppose now that we are in mid-December I should harvest the rest! The leaves went a bit soft that night we had frost but the fruit is perfectly all right.

Moving a bit further down in the garden and you can see where all the pots in the beds have ended up: along the path, like soldiers standing guard. The flowerbeds are almost empty, just waiting for all the bulbs to emerge.

But there are flowers here of course, ‘Annabelle’ is still flowering - for the 18th month in a row. OK, I know I keep saying it every GBBD post, but is it a record? Is it?? I do actually wish we get cold enough weather for all my fuchsias to get a proper break and go into dormancy, I think they need a rest now.

After all the rain we had in November my roses got a bit knocked back, and only the cream miniature rose has managed to produce an open flower by now, but there are buds on several of the other rose bushes.

My December garden is full of cyclamens, in all colours.

They look so cheerful, but unfortunately there are caterpillars around right now that also find them irresistible. They can devour a plant in just one day.

Skimmias don’t have any predators in my garden, these amazing flower buds stay like this for 6 months, from late autumn until April or so, when they open up to tiny white flowers. I have four Skimmias and would love to have more.

At the bottom of my garden it’s also becoming emptier in the flowerbeds and less space left on the path. The mop hydrangea at the bottom right is still looking good.

I have cut off all the hellebore leaves so now it’s just to lean back and wait for the flowers. Well, hey – the first flowers are already here! This is a Helleborus hybridus, a creamy spotted one, but you can’t see the spots until it opens up properly.

And this is Helleborus ericsmithii 'Winter Sunshine', not sure what’s been nibbling it but it could be slugs.

And this is Primula vulgaris Belarina 'Amethyst Ice', also a favourite lunch for the slugs.

Here is a plant the slugs won’t touch, slugs don’t like fuchsias! This is Fuchsia 'Marcus Graham'. The berries from this fuchsia tastes wonderful!

And this is ‘Bella Rosella’, the fuchsia with the absolute biggest flowers in my garden.

The alstroemeria is continuing to produce new flowers, this is ‘Dandy Candy’ and sometime next spring I will need to get this one a new brother or sister.

Before we leave my back garden, let me just show you what I got under the bench at my seating area. Here are all the plants I dug up from the front garden window baskets last month! I didn’t have the heart to just throw them away so they will stay here until spring and then it will be a question of what’s still alive. The dahlias I used in the front garden in the summer are a type most people use as annuals and just throw away at the end of the year, but you should see the size of these tubers! I could only just about squeeze them in to these pots. And the waterfall begonias were so beautiful in the summer so I thought I would try saving them too. We’ll see!

And here is my front garden now, in the bleak December sunshine, with the winter bedding already growing well.

Here is Primula vulgaris ‘Rosebud’ in yellow.

And in pink.

And this is the first of many Bellis perennis to come.

The Penstemon Pensham 'Amelia Jayne' in the container is still in full flower.

And in another container I have Garrya elliptica 'James Roof' – in a month or two these tassels will open up and flower into beautiful chains that looks like pearls.

At the moment the Garrya is doing a fine jobbing working as a Christmas tree, in my next post I will show you the Garrya with battery lights on at dark :-) Did you notice the pink boots in foreground? I got a Homebase gift card for my birthday and bought 3 pink pots for the money, 2 of them just standard pots for the back garden, the third one this shaped as boots. They are now all filled with daffodils at the bottom and crocuses on the top.

That was the roundtrip for this month’s GBBD post and as I am sitting here this evening writing, the temperature is 9 degrees C (48 F) in my garden and we are expecting a top temp tomorrow of around 10 C. With ten days till Christmas I guess a white Christmas here in London is just as unlikely this year as it has been for the past 120 or so years. Well, that is depending on how you define ‘White Christmas’ of course. The bookies over here define it as ‘one single snowflake falling on Buckingham Palace and/or The Met Office on Christmas Day’ (even if it melts on the way down) - and that happens occasionally. I must admit that’s not really enough for me! But a widespread covering of snow on the ground, at least an inch of snow, well that hasn’t happened in London on Christmas Day since 1895 apparently. Mind you, an inch of snow in London creates utter chaos, with complete standstill on the motor ways, cancelled planes and closed offices and shops. Better not wish for that for the Christmas week :-)

Not that I wish for snow in general, I must admit I have had enough of snow to last me the rest of my life and would much prefer really mild winters every year, but just for Christmas it would be nice with a good dusting of snow, and then it can melt away on Boxing Day!

Please visit our host Carol at May Dreams Garden for many more December gardens around the world. Until next time, take care.

46 comments:

  1. A garrya in a pot ours is huge. Camellias in flower. You really do have unique conditions.

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    1. Yes, I never knew my Garrya would survive this long in a pot, it’s 10 years old! It has been re-potted only once to a slightly larger container but seems perfectly happy and being in a container the root restriction means it probably will never get any bigger than this.
      Camellia ‘Takanini’ is an early variety and would probably flower in your garden around December too.

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  2. Your garden looks so nice and tidy. You even have already a Camellia flowering.....And when I see all those pots with plants it´s amazing. I really do hope you (and we) don´t get heavy frost, that would be desastrous. But I think your conditions in London between the buildings is rather good and created a micro climate.

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    1. Thanks Janneke, yes I do have a favourable climate in my garden, so even though it has been cold lately, I have only had one frost night so far. Camellia ‘Takanini’ is an early variety, I bought it to complement my other camellia which doesn’t flower until March.

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  3. Lovely flowers!
    I especially like the red camellia.
    Happy Garden Bloggers' Day!
    Lea

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    1. Thanks Lea, happy GBBD to you too!

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  4. It's always such a pleasure to walk through your garden. You never disappoint.

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    1. Thanks Dorothy, pleasure to have you visiting again.

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  5. Your garden never disappoints, even as winter cold sets in. (As a thin-blooded Californian, I consider anything below 60F/16C extremely cold.) Your Fuchsias do indeed deserve a rest, although they continue to impress me. I love the tiny-flowered variety - I've never seen one in that pale pink color. I love the pink boot pot too! Happy GBBD Helene!

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    1. Thanks Kris, I have really got an interest for the miniature fuchsias lately, I have a few more on my wish-list.
      Happy GBBD to you too!

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  6. I don't know where I've been but I had no idea you can essentially garden all year round! Fabulous and it's at a slower pace so you get a break. LOVE the pink boot planter. What a great idea. Happy Holidays.

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    1. Oh yes, in my garden I can potter around every week of the year, yesterday I dug up and split a couple of dahlias and put them back in the ground – mine stays in the ground, no need to lift them here. And I also planted some lily bulbs. Today it’s 9 degrees C (48 F) and glorious sunshine, the plan is to take some more fuchsia cuttings and harvest the last of my chillies. Oh, it never stops here :-)
      Happy Holidays to you too.

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  7. As usual, your garden is full of wee treasures Helene. It's nice to think that spring is not too far away. Oddly enough for this time of year I have no primula in flower, I suspect it's the dry year that caused that.
    I forced all my Fuchsia into dormancy. I am hoping my attempts are successful. . Keep your fingers crossed for your babies Helene. :)

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    1. Thanks Angie, once we are past New Year’s Eve, I get into spring mode!
      I don’t have any Primula vulgaris in flower either! I have wondered about that, mind you, most of them have been badly eaten by tiny slugs lately – after I swapped my usual slug pellets for a ‘much better Eco Friendly type’. Seems it is friendlier to the slugs too! I am keeping all my fingers crossed for your fuchsias, and if they don’t come back you can always get a new shipment by mail, I have more tiny brothers and sisters growing :-)

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  8. Your garden is cleaner than my kitchen, which means I must go clean, but before the scrubbing, what wonderful flowers, especially the exquisite Camellia and Fuchsia 'Marcus Graham'. Happy GBBD!

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    1. My garden is cleaner than MY kitchen too! Working in my garden is much more important to me than housework :-) The camellia was new a year ago so I am still amazed by a camellia that starts to flower in November, but this is normal for Camellia ‘Takanini’. When it gets a bit bigger and mature it can flower for up to 5 months!
      Happy GBBD!

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  9. I remember being quite impressed with your Skimmias when we were there. They just seemed so healthy and full! Regarding the Fuchsias, I didn't realize they go dormant. I figured they either keep on flowering or die with a hard frost. But I have to admit, I've never had a chance to test it! I have some spring flowering bulbs coming up in a pot in the sunroom for the first time ever! Usually I put them in the ground, but I thought I'd experiment with pots this year--two in the garage and one in the sunroom. So, I'm envious of all your bulb plants emerging outside! A great post, as always, Helene!

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    1. Thanks Beth, some fuchsias can be grown in zone 5, it’s just a matter of choosing the right hardy one and where to locate them in the summer. For some tips and inspiration, this might be of help:
      http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1048634/
      As soon as we are past New Year’s Eve, my garden (and I!) gets into spring mode, even though the weather can vary greatly from year to year so winter can ‘come and go’ several times before end of February.
      Good luck with your spring bulbs, looking forward to seeing them in flower on your blog :-)

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  10. Your camellia is beautiful. I continue to be amazed at how many different types of plants you manage in your garden. And your nursery shelves - just overflowing. How do you find the room for them all? Seems you are an expert at succession gardening for one thing. I'm still working on that aspect of my gardening know-how.

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    1. Thanks Rebecca, I try to make my garden a 52 weeks garden, there is always flowers here so yes, with all these pots I can make the most of succession gardening. But I have too many so to your question of how do I find room for all of them – the short answer is, I don’t!
      I keep giving away as many plants I can to anyone willing to take them! I also swap plants with other plantaholics and the rest I just try to squeeze in as best I can :-)

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  11. Does Camellia ‘Takanini’ usually flower now or is it especially early? It's a beautiful thing to have in the garden at this time of year.

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    1. Camellia japonica ‘Takanini’ is quite unusual as it has an exceptionally long flowering time. Depending on which nursery you check it will say from November/December/January until March/April. It will flower continuously and unlike other camellias, the flowers don’t drop off petal by petal but the flowers drop off whole – so much easier to pick up :-)
      I am so happy I chose it, I keep it in a pot still and moved the pot to the bottom shady garden during the summer, but during the winter I have it on the patio so I can enjoy the flowers. Mine started flowering in November and is still a small plant, can’t wait for it to be a bit larger, smothered in flowers for 5 months every year!

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  12. HaHa! Your Nursery area is like mine, over-flowing and like me, wondering where on earth I'm going to put all of my cuttings, etc... But isn't it a huge satisfaction to see new plantlets grow?
    Snow would be nice on Christmas Day, just to make it feel real but then it can clear off.

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    1. Yes, it’s become an addiction – to see what I can manage to propagate. Never mind where to put the plants eventually! But I have more people I can give plants to now than I had before so my babies do get a home eventually.

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  13. Helene what a treat to see roses, and hellebores already....and I have never seen a miniature fuchsia. What a cute flower. It must be lovely to see your garden almost go to bed, and wake up just as suddenly in no time. Year round flowers....I will have the snow for you! And I love those pink boots.

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    1. Those pink boots were a happy find, when I saw them on their website I just knew I had to have them :-) After 15 years in London I am still amazed by what I can grow here, not taking it for granted yet, but really loving the mild climate – and no snow.

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  14. That miniature Fuchsia is just adorable. It's so very tiny. Loved that beautiful red Camellia too. It's wonderful to see so many blooms still in your garden. Another great GBBD. I hope you get just a dusting of snow for Christmas day.

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    1. I am getting more and more into miniature fuchsias, and it suits my already very full garden too! We have 15 degrees C today, not very Christmassy at all, but lovely gardening weather :-)

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  15. Hi Helene, it's been a while since I visited your blog but your garden is looking as lovely as ever in its clean winter state! Winter flowers are the best treasures I think and you have a lot of my favourites including camellia, cyclamens and hellebores. My summer hellebore hasn't bloomed yet but that may be because I shifted it in spring. Hopefully it gets back to its routine soon!

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    1. Isn’t it amazing how empty my garden looks compared to September? I love this look though, just waiting for all the bulbs to pop up. I hope your summer flowering hellebore will perform in its new location too!

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  16. Wow those miniature Fuchsia really are minute! Isn't it great to see so much in flower still? Some Penstemon never seem to stop - I really must make a list of the (nearly) non-stop bloomers. Here's to a light dusting of snow and a reason to sit by the fire!

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    1. Yes, my penstemons seem to flower until I cut them down in February, its’ just as hard as cutting down the roses every year – still in flower.

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  17. Helene, you have blooming primulas, it's incredible! When I see your camellia and magnolia I think that spring will be, after this cold and rainy winter. My magnolia looks as a packet of white cloth, covered from cold. I'm not sure how it winters and what I will see in spring.
    I wish you more health, dear, a Merry Christmas and joy in your wonderful garden in New Year!

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    1. I usually have lots of white Primula vulgaris in flower too, but for some reason none of them are in flower right now – but over here they flower right through the winter. Thank you for your well wishes, and I wish you the same, Happy Christmas!

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  18. I love your Camellia and what a cute little Fuchsia. The ericsmithii hellebore hybrids are wonderful and seem to flower earlier than the Orientalis hybrids, I love them. What a lot you cram in your garden.

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    1. Thanks, seems many liked my red camellia :-)
      I am thinking of getting a few more ericsmithii hellebores, perheps some in a darker colour that can stand out more.

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  19. It's always interesting to me as a Californian to see California natives like the Garrya elliptica in the UK. Around here, only native plant enthusiasts grow them! But more people should. They're great plants.

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    1. Thanks, Garryas are quite common over here in gardens, perhaps not in as small gardens as mine as they do grow very big eventually, but they are also often used in parks and public spaces like supermarket parking areas etc - but I have never seen one in a container before, apart from mine. I am amazed it is still happy there after 10 years, the cold winter 3 years ago took one branch but the rest was OK, and that's all I have had of trouble with mine.

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  20. Helene, I wouldn't be surprised to find that London is one of the best places in the northern hemisphere for plant growing. Even in December you still have so much to show us, Fantastic to have the Camellia ‘Takanini’in bloom. I also have a cala lily in a pot, it did flower last year but the leaves started to crumple up and didnt start to revive until I placed the pot in a shady spot in Autumn, I think I will keep it out of full sun next year.

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    1. Thanks Alistair, I haven’t got experience with gardening anywhere else in UK, but I really appreciate the climate here in London :-) My calla lily is new of 2014, half is a cutting from Angie and half was bought, neither flowered this year but produced an abundance of healthy leaves despite not receiving any fertiliser at all except for some slow-release when potted up in April. There are so many different advice on watering the calla lilies, everything from keeping it soaking wet all the time to water sparingly – ask 10 places and you get 10 answers! I treated my callas as the bog-plants they are, and watered copiously from the start, kept it in full sun and it still looks very healthy – but with no flowers. I hope that’s just because it is a young plant still – next year I hope for lots of flowers!

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  21. Oh I love the boots planter! And the miniature fuchsia - so cute! You have a fair amount of things still going, lucky you! Even though I moved up north, I don't think we'll have a white Christmas this year, either, as the weather forecast is calling for rain. One can hope, though! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Years.

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    1. Thanks Indie, those boots were a lucky find, several people have commented on them.
      Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas too!

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  22. I am so impressed with your skimmias; I must research to see if they could grow for me! I also love your "Takanini." You made a great choice. Helene, I am always amazed at how much grows in your small space; even in winter I see abundance in waiting!

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    1. Thanks, I am sure you can grow skimmias, they do well in zone 6 and upwards, and if careful you could probably grow them in zone 5 too. Place them in your darkest, dingiest corner, where nothing else will grow, but make sure it is not too dry soil. They also grow well between other, taller plants, especially deciduous ones so you can see the lovely flower buds all winter when the plants next to them are without leaves. They are slow growing so unless you want to pay for large specimens you can grow them in containers for a few years together with other plants and then plant out when they are too big for the container. Well worth having in the garden!

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  23. I can't wait to see what your front garden will look like once it grows up a bit more. How is the Calla Lily doing in a pot? I had white Callas all over my side garden and they grew HUGE. However (as you may have read over the summer) after my landlord paved over my garden they are now gone save for one that I dug up and put in a pot. At first it seemed pretty happy, but as of late, not so much. I'm thinking I may need to provide it with a larger pot, perhaps.

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    1. You know what, I have been thinking the same thing! I think I might have to find a space in the border for my callas eventually, the container is quite large, but in less than a year I guess they have already grown too big for that container. I have read that they can happily grow in containers, but not sure if they like it crowded or not, only problem is – I have no space left in the ground! I might try with a larger pot first….

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